Important South Bay City Numbers

I often get clients that move to a new neighborhood inquiring about utility providers and contact information. Thanks to USA National Title, I am happy to share this flyer with the different service providers and their phone numbers.
Another great place to look is online. You can simply google “City of ________” and one of the tabs on their website should take you to all the specified providers and contact info for each. I like the chart below because it gives you a quick overview of which providers each city uses. I hope this helps you too!

Local numbers

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What are CC&R’s?

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If you plan on buying a condo, townhouse, or any home in a complex, then you need to know what CC&R’s are.

CC&R’s stands for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions which are the governing documents that state limitations and rules placed on a group of homes by a builder, developer, neighborhood association and/or homeowner association.  All condos and townhouses have CC&R’s; however, so do most planned unit developments and established neighborhoods. Any homeowner, tenant, or guest who resides in a property with CC&R’s must obey these legal documents, which may also known as bylaws, master deed, the houses rules or another name. These documents and rules are legally enforceable by the homeowners association, unless a specific provision conflicts with federal, state or local laws.

What are the consequences of breaking a rule? 
Penalties might include fines, forced compliance, a lawsuit by the association, and emotional distress. For example, if an association prohibits dogs in the condominium and an owner gets caught with one residing in their unit, he or she might be forced to get rid of the dog in addition to facing fines and a lawsuit. It is important to read the rules thoroughly before you buy an association-governed home.

Can rules be changed?
The procedure for changing the rules should be explained in the governing documents.  Usually a majority vote or, in some cases, a super-majority, will be required however, changing existing rules is rarely easy. HOA presidents and directors have admitted there isn’t enough attendance at a meeting to change a rule, even if 100 percent of the people who are fighting for the change are present.

What are the most important provisions in the governing documents?
I always review the minutes of the most recent meeting which should reflect the association’s operating budget to make sure the complex has enough reserves and is not reflected as a negative. Be sure to keep an eye out for any provisions governing the election of the board members, subleasing and restrictions on remodeling your unit. You can also request a copy of any engineering, architectural or structural inspection reports.

*It’s always a good idea to seek legal counsel if you have questions about the governing documents or rules. Be sure to read the documents yourself and preparing a list of questions, then asking your attorney to interpret anything you don’t understand.

Probate vs. Trust sale

What is a probate sale?
When a homeowner passes away and leaves behind a last will and testament that indicates how the decendent wants their property and assest distributed. In most cases the last will and testament are subject to “probate” in order to pay off debts of the decendent or to liquidate the assets. A probate sale is overseen by a court proceeding that administers the estate of an individual.
Purposes of “estate administration” include:
1. To determine that the decendent is in fact deceased.
2. To establish the valididy of the will.
3. To idendify the heirs and devisees of the decendent
4. To settle any claims that creditors may have against the estate of the decendent.
5. To distribute the property.

What is a trust sale?
In a trust sales court approval is usually not necessary, but there may be a legal requirement to give notice to certain interested individuals. A trust sale is very similar to a Standard Sale, except the trustee is exempt from disclosing any known material facts that may affect the value of the property (due to the trustee typically not being a resident of the property). Although the trustee is typically the main point of contact of the transaction they must manage the trust estate solely for the benefit of the beneficiaries and keep the beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed of the administration. The trustee cannot profit from the trust and has a duty to take reasonable steps to control and preserve the trust property and to make it productive.

Some may argue that it is best for a homeowner  to establish both a last will and testament and a living trust however, I advise that you consult with your attorney to determine what is the best option is for your situation.

Below is a simple video that described the benefits of having both.

Drought-Resistant Landscaping and Rebates

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I had a visit with a past client who is looking to put their home on the market to sell. One thing they need to do to prep for the sale is refresh their landscaping. Due to the drought, their grass has died out and they have expressed a big concern for the amount of water they would need to use to bring it back to it’s original condition. We discussed the option of turning their yards into drought-resistant landscaping and the possibility of getting a rebate for their turf removal project.

I’ve done some research on this program and have provided the information below to share some knowledge of these landscaping options.

“Turf grass is one of the most water-intensive plants in your landscape. Its high water use and frequent maintenance make it a time-consuming and expensive yard option. In fact, the average residential customer spends about 60% of their water on outdoor irrigation. By changing turf to a California Friendly™ yard of drought tolerant plants you can save water and money.

To help with turf removal projects, rebates are available for $2.00 or more per square foot of turf removed.  This increased turf removal rebate is being provided in response to Governor Edmund G Brown Jr.’s emergency drought declaration.

Who is eligible for a rebate?

To be eligible for a rebate, customers must:

  1. Have grass in the proposed project area
  2. Install a new landscape that meets the terms and conditions for their city. All projects must:
    • Not include live turf or turf looking plants
    • Include plants (not turf)
    • Follow any additional requirements for their city. You can see these requirements by applying for project start approval (instructions below).
  3. Synthetic turf is eligible for rebates unless stated in your area’s terms and conditions. Click “Estimate your rebate” to see if you qualify.
  4. Customers are responsible for complying with all applicable local laws, ordinances, and other restrictions.
  5. Must not have received a turf removal rebate before. Only one turf removal rebate per property.”

You can visit http://www.socalwatersmart.com or this link here for the full article and further instructions on the two step process of receiving this rebate.

Companies such as Turf Terminators will help you through this whole process and at no additional cost.

I’ve also found some other tools to help you decide whether or not this program is a good option for your home.

-Get an estimate of how much water you might save by using this water saving calculator: http://www.wrd.org/conservation/

-Learn how to properly read your water bill here: http://www.clca.us/water/waterbill.html

-Check out this site for other available water rebates: http://www.bewaterwise.com/rebates01.html

-Look up “drought tolerant landscaping” or “drought resistant landscaping” on www.pinterest.com to get some great ideas.

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